Published on October 10th, 2017 | by Ashley Williams


Can you win a colour run?

This is a question I posed myself on the eve of the Coloreate, a 5k colour run through the streets of Merida, Mexico. There were racing tops, racing numbers, and a finish and start line….Was it a race? Could there be a winner?

Incase you’re wondering, a colour run is a 5k run, where participants are pelted with volleys of coloured powder across the 5000m course. And in case that’s still a bit to abstract….remember that amazing moment when you chucked flour into someone’s face and how it exploded into a beautiful white plume, covering you, them and everyone in the room in a thick white powder. 

Now imagine that moment but with 2000+ people and 7 kinds of colour. It’s chaos! But a colourful one.

Runners of all ages sprint, run and roll through the hallucinogenic clouds. Before arriving at the finish line, where the sweaty and multicoloured runners join together into a heaving mass of colour, as they dance and jump to dubstep, while being shot at with even more colour canons. So, how can you win a colour run? Is finishing first winning? Is being most colourful the best? Is there any point?
To understand, I feel it best to describe the build up to this armagedon of colour.

Pre-Race Planning

The day before the race, we were sent to a nightclub to pick up our running tops and sunglasses…Not the most traditional way to pick up pre-race running swag but is it any less odd than going to a conference centre, or a small tent in a field, the day before a race to pick up a paper bib? 

The queue into the nightclub was long as the DJs’ (yes DJs) tried to make a rave out of the mix of 2000+ runners trying to pick up their shirts and sunglasses for the run the next day. I think the DJs must have just carried on from the night before, seemingly unaware the clubbers had turned to runners, in the haze of drugs and booze, as they were well into it. But nonetheless, shirts and running swag was handed out by the bucket load to the dubstep beat.

Picking up the pre-race swag, it begun to feel more and more like a race. Sadly my Spanish skills were nowhere near good enough to ask such an abstract question of ‘Can you win a colour run’, so I asked my buddy in the UK instead.

Can you win a colour run?

With that, I was set….I’d try and win it….Also check out my amazing spelling!

The Race

We were told to arrive at 6am. It gets very hot in Mexico, and so the majority of the races start either early morning or late evening. Arriving, we were handed race numbers and coloured powder packets, presumably to throw on the way around the course. We threw our packets at each other long before the start line….just felt right.

When the time came to start, the huge range of runners, joggers and strollers, massed into the start area. I’ve been in a lot of starting corrals but this one was something else. It must have felt like herding cats for the marshals, as puffs of coloured powder squirted here and there among the squirm of runners, as a horse voiced official tried to tell people where to go.

It felt like a sweaty burbling swamp. Looking around, I spotted a few runners who looked like they’d been pondering the same question of ‘can you win a colour run?’ as me. The gradual flexing of calves; the personal mini pre-race checks….‘I think they’re gonna try and win this’….I said to Lindsay, as another cloud of colour shot over our heads. 

As the claxon roared and the first round of canons shot powder across the runners, the swamp of colour rolled forward. One section of runners plodded daintily weary of the first cloud of colour as it rained down from above; another stared in wonder at the abstract spectacle; and the last group (the runners) surged ahead. We found ourselves stuck in the initial mayhem of the start line, as many of the participants stopped to take in the colour, seemingly amazed at what they were doing. It took a while to push through but before long, me and Lindsay found ourselves jogging together through the streets.

 I was still a bit unsure as to whether it was right to run fast, so I told myself, I’ll just go as fast as the guy ahead of me. Besides, the quicker I get to the colour throwing areas, the more colour I get.

A lot of runners must have had the same thought as me, as the further and faster I ran, the more runners I found sprinting ahead.

Luckily, I was wearing a GoPro for this one, so check out the video of the race below. It’s pretty intense at points.

Just after the 3.5KM mark, I broke into the front runners, soon pushing ahead into a first place lead I swore I was going to lose. However, with the police bike leading, I found myself pulling further and further ahead as we weaved back through the course, past the back end of colour runners, who had got bottle necked at the colour throwing stations.

With police bike leading the way, I took the opportunity and gunned it to the finish line.

I had no idea how far I was ahead but crossing the line, I found myself alone with only the manager congratulating me for being first back with a fist bump and handshake.

He took my name and number and then I just stood there.

Oh dear, should have I run that fast? Have I missed the point of this?  But, within moments, runner after runner followed me in.

Suddenly, I was grabbed and pulled from all directions by colourful Mexicans who came in after me. Grabbing my hand and pulling out cameras from everywhere for selfies and victory shots, posing with 2nd and 3rd and 1-10th. It was pretty magical. So, can you win a colour run?

I hope so, because I did.

But what do you think? Can you win a colour run? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author

Hello! I'm Ash and I'm a film maker and teacher. I love travel and making short funky videos of our adventures on the way. I'm a part time writer here at Mundo Trundle but the full time video man.

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